HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Officials are as much of a necessity as anyone else in sports. Some of them officiate hundreds of games a year. While it is a solid source of income, most do it for the love of the game, but when the high school and college seasons came to an end so did theirs. Chuck Tonini was kind enough to share with us how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected him and his fellow officials.
Rocco DiSangro: Without players playing the game, officials can’t officiate. How has this affected you guys?
Chuck Tonini: Well, we had an email come out you know the first week of March saying this might be coming, then we got the directive that we’re going to shut down everything until April 6th. You know we have a lot of guys that do this full time it’s what they do and most of us are just doing high school baseball for the most part, but several officials lost their entire seasons. Some officials lost thousands of dollars.
RD: What are these guys doing now, you yourself as well as an alternative?
CT: Most of us have packed up our gear, we’ve hung up our uniforms we’re waiting to hear what we’re going to be doing. Maybe the summer leagues will get going I know the high schools do a week to two weeks of summer play. You know the virus is going to dictate what we do going forward.
RD: Why did you want to get into it and why do you feel like your fellow officials wanted to get into it and stay with it?
CT: As you get older you want to teach the younger generation about how to live life, how to be good sportsmen. We don’t do this for the money, we do this because we love the game, love the kids, we love interacting with coaches, but we really try to stay in it for the game.
RD: If someone were to come to you and say how do I become an official after this is all said and done? I really want to get into it. What would you say to them?
CT: We have meetings on Sunday nights. Training is provided. We have the new officials coming in an hour early to get training mechanics and rules training. There is a test that you have to take but it’s not very difficult. Then you can start calling middle school baseball games from day one. We teach you how to be an official.
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